The Consequences of Disparity in a California Will

6:41 pm Estate Planning, Wills

last will 150x150 The Consequences of Disparity in a California WillThere are potential consequences that extend beyond hurt feelings when parents leave one child more than others in a will, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.  One of the main consequences is potentially leaving your estate plan vulnerable to legal challenge.

Of course, there can be a number of very good reasons for unequal distributions.  One child may be much more successful financially than others; one child may have chosen a philanthropic career that will never pay much monetarily but still makes a great contribution to the world.  Parents may be estranged from one child; one child more than the others may have assumed the burden of care for aging parents.

Whatever the reason for an uneven distribution, there are ways to do it so you can protect your last will and testament from being challenged in a court of law:

Explain the disparity – the best path is to explain to your children exactly what your will includes while you are still alive, but many parents find this too difficult.  So explain it in your will.

Prove your capacity – Write a letter or make a video to accompany your will that explains your decision-making process.  If you make a video, be sure to consult with your California estate planning attorney beforehand.

Make gifts now – Making gifts while you are still alive will help the children who need it most and you can then make even distributions in your will for after you are gone.

Keep your will updated – drafting a series of new wills over time with slightly different language but the same basic provisions shows that you have reviewed your will and that your intentions have remained the same over time.

No-contest clauses – you can add no-contest clauses in your will that will in effect disinherit those who contest your will in court.

Get started by contacting our Orange County asset protection estate planning law firm as soon as possible.

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